thE VULTURE : A Tale of modern commerce : by BASSEtt KENDALL

Act II. The same.

Three weeks later. About 6 p.m.

(Jordan is sitting, cap in hand, on the edge of a chair. Will. enters with Batista. Jordan rises.)

Will. Will you wait here a moment, sir. I will tell Señor Cabana you have come.

Bat. Thank you. (Exit Will. Jordan and Bat. look at one another rather uncertainly. Enter Cab.)

Cab. I hope I have not kept you waiting, Major. This is Captain Jordan, the skipper of the boat which will land your goods in a week’s time. Have you brought the maps.

Bat. Yes – here they are. (He spreads one out.) This is an inch to the mile map of the coast.

Cab. You had better have a look at this, Captain Jordan.

Jor. Thank you, sir.

Bat. Here is Oviedo. Seven miles to the east there is a very lonely stretch of coast; just at this place you will see an inlet. It is there that I want the stuff put ashore.

Jor. It looks a very rocky coast, sir. Is there any difficulty about navigating it?

Bat. Not for an experienced sailor like yourself, Captain. I have brought another map on a very much larger scale which will show you the exact details of the coast round the creek. Here we are.

Jor. That looks like a dangerous reef running out beyond the western point, sir.

Bat. Yes; at low tide it’s uncovered. It extends about half a mile out to sea. But there is deep water beyond.

Jor. Then when we round the point of the reef, we can steam straight into the creek?

Bat. That’s right.

Jor. Is there a buoy – or light of any kind?

Bat. No. Our own coasters don’t use the creek and keep well out to sea, taking their bearings by that lighthouse four miles beyond.

Jor. That’s clear enough, sir. Is there good anchorage in the creek itself?

Bat. When the tide is half up you can run right in alongside this shelf of rock. It forms a kind of natural quay.

Jor. What’s the depth at that state of the tide?

Bat. The rock falls sheer away. There must be six or seven fathoms there.

Jor. That’s good enough. At low water I suppose one couldn’t put in there.

Bat. No – but if you make the creek at three hours before high tide, you will have six hours to unship your cargo and be clear.

Jor. That should be time enough, if we have plenty of hands.

Bat. I will arrange to have a party of good men to help you.

(Pedro appears in window, listening.)

Jor. There’s just one thing, sir. I notice that the shelf runs out here into a small reef just before we get to our anchorage. If there are no lights, on a dark night it would be difficult to take our bearings. Could you arrange for a lamp to be shown at the end of that little reef, sir, – just here. That would make everything quite simple.

Bat. That can easily be arranged. I’ll mark the exact spot with a cross. There. I’ll leave the maps with you; I have duplicates. I shall be at the place myself to meet you on the night of November 17th.

Jor. (to Cab.) You’re expecting the stuff here tonight, I believe, sir. High tide’s at 1.54. We must weigh anchor not later than a quarter past two.

Cab. You’ve got everything ready?

Jor. Yes, sir.

Cab. Then you had better wait up here at the house. I’ll let you know as soon as I have definite news of the lorries. I have further instructions to give you.

(To Bat.) Well, Major, you will have the laugh of the Communists on November 17th, when you have landed their arms for yourself.

(Ped. enters and speaks. The rest turn sharply. Cab.’s gun is out at once, not observed by Ped.)

Ped. So that’s the game, is it. You’ve let us down, have you, you dirty traitor. Didn’t expect me here today, eh? Thought I was back in Spain waiting for a blasted cargo that would never come? Well, I’ve got you now, Cabaño, – and by hell, you don’t escape.

(He whips out a knife to stab Cab. Cab. has him covered. Bat. and Jor. disarm him.)

Cab. Perhaps I had better have that knife. (Jor. hands it.) Thank you. Has he any other arms, Major Batista?

Bat. No.

Cab. How very primitive. My dear young man, how can you be so foolish as to suppose that your ridiculous knife is a match for my automatic? If those two gentleman had not been so considerate as to hold you, I should have been compelled to put a bullet through your head. Now, sit down there! (Ped. doesn’t move.) Sit down, I say! (Jor. forces him down.) Thank you, Captain Jordon. For your own sake stay quiet and keep out of mischief. I apologise for the interruption, Major Batista; were there any other details you wished to discuss with Captain Jordan and myself?

Bat. I don’t think so, thanks. I must be getting back to London. Au revoir, Captain Jordon; we shall meet again on November 17th.

Cab. I will see you to your car. Captain Jordon, keep an eye on that impetuous young man till I return. You have a revolver, I expect.

Jor. I have, Sir, But I don’t need that to keep this bloke quiet.

(Exeunt Cab. and Bat.)

Ped. (After eyeing Jor.) Captain.

Jor. Well – what is it?

Ped. Have you ever been hungry?

Jor. Hundreds of times.

Ped. Starving?

Jor. Once or twice.

Ped. Then you understand the feelings of us Communists. Captain, my friends are dying – not for want of food – but for want of arms.

Jor. Good job too. Let ‘em die and be rid of them.

Ped. Are you a Communist, Captain.

Jor. No. I’m a good old-fashioned Liberal. About the only one left in this country, curse it.

Ped. But you are a worker yourself. You must sympathise with the working man against the capitalists. Anyway, you’re not a Fascist.

Jor. Mosley! Pah!

Ped. Then don’t carry arms to the Fascists in Spain. Land them 17 miles west of Oviedo instead of seven miles east. I know a spot where we can meet you and get them ashore.

Jor. Now look here, young man – are you paying me for this voyage or is Señor Cabana? As long as he pays me fair, I’ll stick to him; see?

(Enter Cab.)

Cab. I hope my young friend has given you no trouble, Captain.

Jor. Oh no. He’s been trying to make me turn Communist. It needs more than his silly gaff to change my opinions.

Cab. I want to talk to this young man. Wait up here; I’ve got some further instructions to give you.

Jor. Very well, sir.

(Exit Jor.)

Cab. Why did you interfere? You almost upset my plans.

Ped. I mean to upset your plans, you blasted traitor.

Cab. Ibanez, you are not only a meddler – you’re a fool! A fine intelligent agent the Spanish Government employs. A young puppy who barks up the wrong tree – who tries to bite his best friends. How much did you hear? (Ped. is silent.) Tell me.

Ped. I heard you arranging to land our arms for the rebels.

Cab. Yes – but you knew nothing of what had gone before. Still less of what was coming afterwards. You sneak round corners and hear a few words – and you haven’t the brain to see that all the time I am outwitting the rebel Batista for you. You gave me an order for a handful of machine-guns, rifles and engines; why so few?

Ped. You know as well as I do. We haven’t the funds.

Cab. But Franco has.

Ped. And so you betray us and sell to the rebels.

Cab. Yes, I sell to the rebels – and why? Do you suppose I can buy arms without money? Do you think Batista will give me the money to supply arms to the Reds? No – but Batista has given me money to send arms to Franco. Now I have bought a double supply – with your money and his; and who do you think that double supply is for? Franco? No, you fool – I am shipping twice your order for your friends the Government troops. And Franco has paid half the price.

Ped. How can I know you’re telling the truth?

Cab. You can’t know – you haven’t the intelligence to know. You haven’t the sense to know your own friends. I can’t help wondering what my good friend, the Spanish Premier, will think when I tell him that I have been insulted and attacked by one of his agents. Perhaps, Señor Ibanez, you will be recalled to the fighting front, where your stupidity will do less damage than in the Secret Service.

Ped. Well, at present I am an agent of the Government. And I demand your solemn undertaking that this cargo of arms shall be landed at the usual place 17 miles of Oviedo on November 18th. And that you have no further communication with Major Batista.

Cab. If I give you that undertaking, you will trouble me no further?

Ped. That is easily promised. I must return to Spain at once to arrange for the landing of the arms.

Cab. You have doubted my loyalty to the Communist cause, Señor Ibanez. That is an insult I shall not readily forget. I hope that when the party approaches me again, it will be through another and more intelligent agent. There is no need to prolong this interview. Good night.

(Exit Cabaño.)

(Ped. stands looking after him – furious but puzzled.)

(The kitchen door opens and Mag. enters.)

Magd. Pedro.

Ped. Go away, Mother. We must not be seen together.

Magd. I heard angry voices. What has happened?

Ped. I don’t know. Either Cabaño is our best friend or he’s a double eyed traitor. I wish to heaven I knew which.

Magd. Trust nothing he says, Pedro. He’s false – false.

Ped. I’m returning to Spain by air. I must discover there whether he’s sending the arms to the rebels or to us. On November 17th I shall be at the spot where he has promised to land them for Batista. If no ship arrives there I shall be ready to receive them on the 18th.

Magd. You are going tonight?

Ped. That is what Cabaño believes. But I stay here tonight until the boat sails. At dawn tomorrow I start for home.

(Cab. appears in window listening,)

Magd. Keep yourself safe, son.

Ped. Don’t you worry, Mother. Goodbye. (Exit.)

(Mag. looks after him, the tears stealing down her cheeks. Enter Cab. through window.)

Cab. Has the young man gone, Magdalena?

Magd. I have seen no young man, Señor,

Cab. Señor Ibanez, I mean.

Magd. He had gone before I came in, Señor.

Cab. I am expecting Sir Harold Vincent this evening, Magdalena. See that a room is ready for him. He will be here for dinner.

Magd. Very good, Señor. (She goes towards door.)

Cab. Your son is a very foolish young man, Magdalena.

Magd. (Taken off her guard.) My – son, Señor?

Cab. Your son, Pedro Ibanez. Yes, it explains a good deal. (They look at one another in silence.) You had better see about Sir Harold’s room, Magdalena.

(Exit Mag. in silence. Cab. considers a moment – then goes slowly to secret panel – unlocks it and takes out papers. Jane enters unheard, sees what he is doing, exit. Then knocks. Cab. returns papers and locks panel.)

Cab. Come in.

Jane. I hope I’m not disturbing you, sir?

Cab. Not at all, Miss Hopton.

Jane. I have some typing to finish. Shall I work here or in the next room?

Cab. You can stay here until Sir Harold Vincent arrives. I am expecting him at any moment.

(Exit Cab.)

(Jane goes to window – satisfied, tries panel – then goes to telephone.)

Jane. (Gives number.) Llangethan 3. Is that the Green Dragon? I want to speak to Mr. Kingdon. Is that you, Tony? The papers are in a panel over the fireplace – yes, locked. You’ll come tonight. Right; what time? 12.30? All right, I’ll look out. I’ve heard nothing about when the arms arrive, or how. You may find out something from his papers. I must ring off now. See you at 12.30. Au revoir.

(She puts back receiver and types.)

(Enter Will. with Sir H.)

Will. I will tell Señor Cabaño you are here, Sir. (Exit.)

Jane. I expect you will be seeing Señor Cabaño in here, Sir Harold. I’ll finish my work in another room.

Sir H. Thank you. (He holds the door and she exit. Then enter Cab.)

Cab. Any news of the lorries.

Sir H. I passed Conolly with the whole outfit a few miles back on the road. He said he’d be at Dead Man’s Cove by 7. (Cab. rings.) That fellow Conolly’s a treasure. The loading of the lorries took no time at the works; we had to make use of his men. It wouldn’t have been safe for our own employees to see machine guns being packed into Fun Fair vans. It would have led to too much gossip in the place. (Enter Will.)

Cab. Is Captain Jordon still here?

Will. Yes, sir.

Cab. Tell him I want him.

Will. Very good, sir. (Exit Will.)

Sir H. I had the lorries loaded exactly in accordance with your instructions. The first five contain your original order; the second order was put into the other five. What’s the idea of that?

Cab. They have to be landed at two different points on the Spanish coast. (Enter Jor.)

Sir H. Good evening, Captain Jordon.

Jor. Good evening, sir.

Sir H. Looks as if you’re going to have a bit of fog.

Jor. It’ll be as thick as my hand by midnight, sir.

Sir H. That won’t interfere with your sailing, will it?

Jor. Just what we want, sir. We’ll slip out under cover of it. No coastguard on earth would be able to stop us.

Sir H. That’s good.

Cab. Captain Jordon, the lorries will be at the cove by 7 o’clock. What time is it now?

Sir H. Half past 6.

Cab. Everything in the first five lorries is to be stowed for’ard – everything in the last five to go aft. Is that perfectly clear?

Jor. Quite, sir.

Cab. The lorrymen will assist in putting the stuff on board.

Jor. Very good, sir.

Cab. Now listen very carefully. When you reach the Spanish coast, all that you’ve got for’ard is to be landed on November 17th at the creek Major Batista pointed out to you. You will not tell the Major you have more on board.

Jor. I follow.

Cab. You will then stand off from the shore and deliver the whole of your aft cargo to Señor Ibanez at the point I showed you 17 miles west of Oviedo.

Sir H. Why the double risk of putting in at two different places?

Cab. The two consignments are required for different forces. Are you quite clear about these instructions, Captain?

Jor. Perfectly, sir.

Cab. When’s high tide?

Jor. 1.54

Cab. And you’ll weigh anchor then?

Jor. Just after the turn. Say a quarter past two.

Cab. Come up and report to me when everything’s aboard.

Jor. Very good, sir.

(A rumbling in the distance.)

Sir H. Those must be the lorries.

Jor. Then I’d better get down to the cove.

Cab. See you later, Captain.

Jor. That’s right, sir. (Exit Jor.)

Cab. (Going to window and opening curtains.) The fog’s thickening fast. (Closes curtains.) That’s good.

(The Curtain is drawn to denote the passing of six hours.)

(12.30 a.m. the same night)

(The stage is in complete darkness except for fire. Tap on window, 3 times. Jane enters [kitchen] very cautiously and locks off other door. Then unlocks and opens window. Tony enters, disguised as a burglar. Sack on shoulder.)

Jane. They’re not all in bed yet. There’s a light in Cabaño’s room; I think Sir Harold is out somewhere. You’d better be quick.

Tony. Where’s the silver kept?

Jane. In the pantry, just outside here. What do you want silver for?

Tony. I want them to think it’s a common burglary. If I just take the papers it obviously isn’t. I’ll load up with silver if you’ll keep cave here.

Jane. Right; first door on the right. (Exit Tony. Jane at other door. A few sounds of clinking metal; Tony returns, sack half full.)

Tony. Now for the panel. Which is it?

Jane. Here.

Tony. Keep a look out still.

(Tony burgles panel. Jane at door. Tony examines papers by torch.)

Tony. Jane. (She comes to him.)

Jane. What.

Tony. You do look topping.

Jane. Oh – do be serious.

Tony. I am – perfectly serious.

Jane. Are those letters important?

Tony. I think so – very. Probably just what we want. I must take them back to the pub and examine them. I shall drop the silver in the pond on the way. If this is conclusive evidence of arms traffic, I’ve got a squad of plain clothes men and an Inspector from Haverfordwest waiting at the next village; they can be here within 15 minutes if I give them a ring.

Jane. Tony.

Tony. Well?

Jane. I believe something’s up tonight. There’s been a feeling of restlessness about everyone.

Tony. If you want me, give me a ring. But my advice is: go to bed and keep out of it. You’ve done your bit already. (A noise of approaching voices.) What’s that? Slip up to bed, Jane. I’ll see this through. (She hesitates.) Go on – you’ll only queer my pitch.

Jane. I’ll go up the back stairs. (Exit Jane, kitchen way.)

(Dan. and Esth. can be heard approaching window. Tony poses as surprised burglar. Enter with torch through window Dan. and Esth. Dan. sees Tony. Jane is listening.)

Dan. Hullo young feller me lad! What’s your game here?

Tony. Not so loud, mate. Funny we’ve struck the same night. What are you after? I’ve got the spoons.

Dan. Well, Esther, if he don’t take me for another lag!

Esth. Sauce, I call it. Two honest hard working folk like us.

Tony. Well, what are you here for any’ow? Honest, ‘ard-working folk don’t walk into rich furriner’s ‘ouses at dead of night for no good purpose.

Esth. Never you mind what we’re doing here. Our job is to hand you over to Mr. Cabaño. What do you say, Daniel.

Dan. That’s right, Esther. Ain’t fair to the gentleman to let this blighter cap his spoons.

Tony. An’ what’ll ‘e do about it?

Dan. Hand you over to the cops, like you deserve.

Tony. An’ what’ll the cops say if I tells ‘em I see you an’ this lidy ‘ere? I’ll peach if the gentleman tries to quod me, strike me pink I will.

(Dan. and Esther look at one another uncomfortably.)

Oh, you don’t want the cops after you, eh? No – I thought not. Now be a sport, mate: don’t split on me and I won’t split on you. That’s fair, ain’t it?

Dan. What do you say, Esther?

Esth. Well – the chap’s not done us any harm. And the gentleman can afford a few spoons, I dare say.

Dan. Then we’ll be merciful, like what the missus says. I don’t like to bring trouble on a fellow ‘uman bean.

Tony. That’s right, mate; I knew you was a sport. Look ‘ere, I’ll share the spoons with you.

Dan. No – we’re after something bigger than spoons. You’d better clear out while the going’s good.

Tony. Right ‘o, guvnor. Good luck!

(Exit Tony, carrying sack, at window.)

Esth. We ‘adn’t better say anything to Mr. Cabaño about that chap. Least said, soonest mended’s what I say.

Dan. You’re right, Esther. Our mouths is sealed.

(Cab. enters.)

Cab. Who was here with you?

Dan. There hasn’t been nobody, sir. We was just conversing together, the missus and me. The stuff’s all aboard the “Pretty Polly,” sir. (Jane disappears.)

Cab. Did Captain Jordon come up with you?

Dan. No, sir. He’s just superintending the stowing of the cargo, sir. But when it was clear of the lorries and on deck, we just slipped up, me and the missus, to let you know.

Esth. Perhaps you could find it convenient to pay us now, sir. We shall have to make an early start tomorrow morning.

Cab. You must arrange that with Sir Harold. That’s his business. Is he still down at the cove?

Dan. Yes, sir. He’s very particular about the way the men handle those aeroplane engines, I must say.

Esth. We’d better get back, Daniel, and see that they get the vans up safe. That’s a nasty bend down to the cove. And the men’s a bit excited, what with the adventure and Sir Harold’s whisky. We’ll arrange with Sir Harold, then, sir. Goodnight.

Cab. Goodnight.

(Exeunt Dan. and Esth. through window.) (Cab. goes to panel – finds papers gone – much perturbed, but controlled. Goes to kitchen door and calls.) Magdalena. (After a longish pause she enters.) You are still up, Magdalena. Why?

Magd. Is anyone in this house not up tonight?

Cab. Who has been in here?

Magd. I don’t know. I’ve been in my room.

Cab. In that panel there were some papers of extreme importance. They have been stolen.

Magd. That’s nothing to do with me.

Cab. Are you quite sure of that, Magdalena? Those papers would have been of great interest to – your son.

Magd. He’s not been here.

Cab. I did not suggest that he had. But a mother will take big risks for the sake of her son.

Magd. I haven’t stolen the papers.

Cab. Then perhaps you can suggest who has?

Magd. I know nothing about it, I say.

Cab. There are only two persons who could be interested in the contents of those papers; – Major Batista and your son, Pedro Ibanez. They were still in their hiding-place after Major Batista left for London.

Magd. Pedro went immediately afterwards. He was flying back to Madrid tonight. By now he is on his way.

Cab. If that is true, Magdalena, there is still one person who has a motive for stealing them – the mother who wishes to do a service for her son.

Magd. (Losing her control.) I haven’t taken them – I knew nothing about them. But you are afraid because they have gone. I can read fear – stark fear – in your inhuman face – and I am glad. You have thought nothing of those you have tortured – you have laughed when you saw fear in their eyes. And now you know yourself what fear means.

Cab. Be careful, Magdalena. If you rouse my anger –

Magd. I care nothing for your anger. I have been afraid of you – afraid for myself – afraid for Pedro. But now I see you as you are – a coward, terrified for your own skin. What was in those papers? Records of your double dealing? Receipts for arms from the Spanish government and the Spanish rebels? Yes – you’ve been trading with them both, Cabaño – cheating them both. While our poor countrymen are tearing at one another’s throats, you grow fat on their blood.

Cab. Silence, woman. Are you mad?

Magd. Yes, I am mad – this house has driven me mad. I came here to help my son – but now I am mad! I can help him no more. But I will ruin you – I will shout to the world what I said to Pedro – you are a vulture, watching from the far safety of the sky, the carnage of the battlefield – ready to swoop down on the bodies of the slain.

Cab. You are a dangerous woman, Magdalena. (Drawing revolver.)

Magd. You won’t frighten me with that thing, Cabaño. I know you are merciless – I know you have no scruples. But even you would not be such a coward as to shoot a defenceless woman in cold blood.

Cab. You have misjudged me, Magdalena. (He fires. She pitches forward without a sound and lies motionless. Just as he fires, Williams appears in window. There is a long silence. Both stand motionless.)

Will. Cor! Now you have done it, sir.

Cab. This can’t be left here, Williams.

Will. What has the old girl done?

Cab. Don’t stand there chattering, idiot. We must hide the body. Come.

Will. Not too easy a thing to hide, guvnor.

Cab. In the cupboard for the moment. (They drag Mag. to cupboard. Cab. looks into it and takes key.)

Cab. You must get rid of that later.

Will. What – me, guvnor? Not if I know it. I’m not going to get copped with a blinking corpse.

Cab. This alters my plans. I can’t risk staying here. I shall sail with Captain Jordon. Pack my suitcase at once. (A sound outside.) We mustn’t be found in this room. Quick.

(Exeunt Cab. and Will.)

(Enter Jane dressed – kitchen door. She looks round cautiously and takes up telephone.)

Jane. Llangethan 3. Is that you, Tony? (Cab. enters and steals up behind her.) The Pretty Polly’s lying – (she gives a smothered exclamation as Cab. claps his hand over her mouth and bangs down the receiver.)

Cab. Who’s Tony? (She doesn’t answer.) Who’s Tony. you sneaking little viper? So you’ve been spying on me too, have you? How much do you know, eh? (Jor. appears in window.) Answer me, will you? Answer me or I’ll strangle you. (Forces her onto her knees.)

Jor. Here – stop that! (Cab. turns, without releasing Jane.) Let that girl go.

Cab. The little cat’s given us away. I’m going to kill her.

Jor. Not while I’m about. I don’t mind carrying guns for foreigners to kill one another with – but I don’t stand by and watch a blinkin’ dago murder an English girl. Let go of her or I’ll land you one’ll knock you senseless.

(Cab whips out gun, but Jor. is too quick and knocks it out of his hand. They stand facing one another, Cab.’s left hand still grasping Jane’s wrist.)

Jor. (Picks up gun.) Now. What are you going to do about it.

Cab. Don’t you see, you fool, if I let her go, she’ll land us both in gaol?

Jor. I don’t care about that. I don’t stand for murder – not of women, anyhow.

Cab. We must stop her tongue.

Jor. If you lay a finger on that girl, I put you out – then I go straight to the police and your perishin’ cargo of guns can go straight to blazes. (Long pause.)

Cab. Very well, Captain Jordon, I agree. I didn’t expect you to be a sentimentalist, but if you object to that only prudent course, we’ll try another. We’ll take her with us.

Jor. Now you’re talking sense. I’ll take her on board.

(Cab. turns and jabs Jane’s arm with hypodermic syringe. She exclaims.) Here, what are you doing to the girl now?

Cab. You can’t carry a screaming girl a quarter of a mile to the shore. But she will soon be asleep.

Jane. (losing control, screams.) Tony! Tony, where are you? Tony.

Cab. No, Tony’s not coming my dear. But kind Uncle Miguel is going to take you for a little pleasure cruise – all the way to Spain, my dear (changing tone.) Yes – you wanted to split on us, didn’t you? But you’re not going to have the chance, young woman. Feeling sleepy already? That’s right. (To Jordan.) What’s the time, Captain?

Jor. Nearly two. There’s no time to lose.

Cab. You go on ahead. I’ll carry her down.

Jane. Don’t leave me with him, Captain – he’ll kill me – don’t leave me. (Esth. appears in window, watching.)

Jor. That’s all right, Miss. I’m not going to let him out of my sight till you’re safe aboard.

Jane. (Very sleepy.) Tony – Tony, I’m going to Spain – I’m going – – to Spain.

(She is now asleep. Cab. examines her eyes.)

Cab. She’s off. Come along. (He picks up Jane.)

Jor. I’ll carry her down. You stop here; it’s safer.

Cab. I’ve changed my plans. Things are getting too hot for me here. I’m sailing with you.

Jor. Oh you are, are you? Then understand this, Mister dago. If you harm a hair of that girl’s head, I’ll pitch you overboard, see?

Cab. Don’t waste time talking. The tide will have turned by now.

Jor. Right. No –- you go first – and don’t forget I’ve got your gun. (Exeunt, Cab. carrying Jane.)

Esth. (Enters and looks at door R.) So that’s that! (Returns and sits.) And who’s Tony, I wonder? Oh well – poor Tony!

(Enter Will. with suitcase.)

Will. Have you seen Señor Cabaño?

Esth. I should think I have!

Will. Where is he?

Esth. Gone.

Will. Gone! Where?

Esth. He’s gone off – with Tony’s girl.

Will. I’m in a hurry. Where’s he gone? Quick.

Esth. Down to the beach, I expect.

Will. I must run after him. (Exit Will.)

(Enter at Window Sir H. and Dan. Dan. very hot, mopping his forehead.)

Sir H. Ah, Mrs. Conolly. You’re here before us. Have any trouble in finding your way in the fog?

Esth. Pretty thick, isn’t it? I’m back here safe, though. Did the men have any trouble with the vans, Daniel?

Dan. Ezra was a bit screwed. But they’re all safely parked on the green now – ready for a start tomorrow.

Sir H. I must say, Conolly, your men worked well. Never saw a better squad of dockers in my life.

Dan. Discipline – that’s what it is, sir – discipline. When they gets orders from me, they knows I mean them.

Sir H. Have a drink?

Dan. Thank you, sir. It wouldn’t come amiss. Thirsty work down there.

Sir H. Say when. (He pours out almost a whole tumbler of whisky.)

Dan. That’ll do, sir – thank you.

Sir H. Soda – or water?

Dan. Not for me. I don’t hold with spoiling good spirits.

Sir H. Will you have some, Mrs. Conolly?

Esth. Well, thank you kindly, sir; I don’t mind if I do. The fog’s got right in my innards. Quite a small one, please, sir – about half a tumbler of whisky and the rest soda. (Sir H. mixes it.) Thank you, sir.

Dan. Well. Here’s luck. (Sir H. takes some himself.)

Sir H. A very satisfactory evening’s work, Conolly – thanks to your help. Now let me see; I still owe you £500.

Esth. That’s right, sir.

Sir H. I’ve got it here in £100 notes. Safer than a cheque. (Offers them to Dan.)

Dan. Give then to the missus, sir; she looks after the finances.

Sir H. (Gives notes to Esther; she counts them and put them away in her dress.) I’d like the men to have something; there were ten of them weren’t there?

Dan. That’s right, sir.

Sir H. Give them a tenner apiece, with my thanks. (Offers to Dan.)

Esth. I’ll take it, sir. That’s very generous, I’m sure, sir. (Aside to Dan.) A fiver each is enough for them; they’d only waste it in drink.

Sir H. Well – I must be getting along. It’s just a quarter past two. They must be about weighing anchor. I’ll just say goodbye to Señor Cabaño; then I’ll be off.

Esth. The gentleman’s gone out, I think, sir.

Sir H. Gone down to the cove to see them off, I expect. Well, I can’t wait. I’ve a long run before morning. I dare say you’ll be making an early start, too.

Dan. That we shall, sir, Got to get to Wolverhampton as quick as we can. Machine guns is all very well – but they make you bit nervous. Give me a fun fair. I say, Esther, won’t Rajah be pleased to see us again.

(Enter at window Tony and Inspector Jenkins.)

Tony. (Going straight up to Sir H.) Sir Harold Vincent, I believe.

Sir H. Yes.

Tony. I have a warrant for your arrest, Sir Harold.

Sir H. My good young man –- on what charge?

Tony. Illicit traffic in arms.

Sir H. Ridiculous! My firm is one of the oldest and best known in the country.

Tony. I’m sorry, Sir Harold; I have no option but to take you into custody. You may make a statement, if you wish, but I must warn you that anything you say may be used against you at your trial.

Sir H. I shall reserve my defence.

Tony. Very well. I shall hand you over to Inspector Jenkins of the Haverfordwest police. Inspector, we shall also have to detain Mr. and Mrs. Conolly on suspicion.

Insp. Very good, sir. I advise you to come quiet. I’ve got 18 men round the house.

Dan. Here – draw it mild, Inspector; what are we charged with?

Insp. Aiding and abetting Señor Cabaño and Sir Harold Vincent in an infringement of the law.

Tony. Your lorries were used for the conveyance of arms from Goodbody and Vincent’s works at Middlesborough to this house.

Dan. Oh, you’ve got it all taped, haven’t you? Well, I throw up the sponge. Fortunately, I have been His Majesty’s guest more than once. I’ll make a statement if you like. (Sir H. flings him an angry look.)

Insp. You can do that down at the police station.

Dan. Just as you like, Inspector. But one thing I must make clear. This lady had nothing to do with it.

Tony. She travelled with you all the way.

Dan. Quite right, sir – but she didn’t know what we was carrying, thought it was our own stuff. Sitting on machine-guns all the way from Middlesborough and thought it was roundabout horses.

Tony. That’s not good enough, Conolly. We must take them in charge, Inspector. (To Dan.) Now – where’s Señor Cabaño?

Dan. Oh, haven’t you got him as well?

Tony. No – but he can’t escape. The house is surrounded.

Dan. What’s the time, Inspector?

Insp. Twenty past two. Why?

Dan. Then you won’t get him. He’s safely on board the “Pretty Polly” – carrying Sir Harold’s goods to Spain.

Tony. Send some men down to the cove at once, Inspector. They may still be in time. (Inspector hurries out and blows whistle. He is heard taking rapidly outside.)

Dan. And to think we mistook this young Busy for a blinkin’ burglar. I could have wunged him over the crumpet – and I let him slip through my fingers.

Esth. What I’m worrying about is Rajah. He will miss us.

Dan. Yes – poor old Rajah.

(Insp. returns. Tony examines carpet.)

Tony. Inspector.

Insp. Yes, sir.

Tony. What should you say that is?

Insp. (Feeling carpet.) Blood, sir. Still wet.

Tony. Yes. There’s more outside this cupboard.

Insp. The cupboard’s locked, sir But I’ve got a skeleton key. (He opens cupboard. Mag.’s body slides out on the floor.)

Dan. Gorblimey!

Sir H. Good Lord! (Esther screams. All crowd round.)

Tony. Who is this woman? Anyone recognise her?

Sir H. Cabaño’s housekeeper.

Insp. Shot through the head. She must have died instantaneously.

Tony. I must speak to Miss Hopton. (Goes to kitchen door: calls:) Jane! ... Jane! ... Jane! (crosses to other door. Esther starts laughing.) Jane! ... Jane! (Turns back at door.) Have any of you seen Miss Hopton, Cabaño’s secretary?

Esth. I say, young man – is your name Tony?

Tony. It is. Why?

Esth. Then I’ve seen your Jane.

Tony. When? Where?

Esth. About a quarter of an hour ago – in Cabaño’s arms.

Tony. Do talk sense, woman. What do you mean?

Esth. She’s gone – with Cabaño.

Tony. Gone? Where?

Esth. Is she your girl, Sonny?

Tony. I don’t know – I love her. Yes.

Esth. Oh, that’s it, is it? Well, Tony. I’m sorry for you, even if you are a Busy. I’ve been young myself and I know what you’re feeling like.

Tony. Quick; tell me what you know.

Esth. All right – I am telling you, aren’t I? Well, I looked through that window about a quarter of an hour ago – or it might have been twenty minutes ...

Tony. Never mind. Go on.

Esth. Cabaño and the skipper was in here with your Jane. Cabaño gave her a jab in the arm and she squealed. Dope, it was, I suppose. “Tony,” she kept on screeching; “Tony, where are you?” Then she flopped down and Cabaño lifted her up and walked out of the house.

Tony. To the cove?

Esth. I expect so – the skipper was with them. Tony. Carry on here, Inspector. I must go. I may be in time. (Exit Tony quickly.)

Insp. I’ve got a car outside. If you’ll all come quietly, I won’t need to put on the darbies.

Sir H. That’ll be all right, Inspector. But what about that?

Insp. I shall send down an ambulance for the body.

Esth. I’m sorry for that young Busy.

Dan. I’m much more sorry for Rajah.

(Exeunt, escorted by Inspector.)

(There is a long pause. Then Pedro enters cautiously at window. He goes to kitchen door and calls softly.)

Ped. Mother! ... Mother!

(Getting no reply he returns to room and throws his torch round. Sees body. Rushes across and kneels.) Mother!

(Will. enters at window. Pedro starts round.)

Will. What are you doing here?

Ped. How did this happen?

Will. (Feigning surprise.) Who is it? Magdalena. Dead?

Ped. Shot through the head. Where’s Cabaño?

Will. I don’t know.

Ped. You’re lying, you skunk. Tell me where he is!

Will. That’s no business of yours.

Ped. No business – and my mother – murdered!

Will. Magdalena! Your mother!

Ped. Yes. My mother. Where’s Cabaño, I say?

Will. I tell you, I don’t know.

Ped. (Seizing him by throat and shaking him backwards and forwards.) Speak, you lying rat! Where’s Cabaño?

Will. Let me go! I’ll tell you.

(Ped. flings him to the ground and stands over him.)

Ped. If you lie to me again, I’ll kill you. Where’s Cabaño?

Will. Gone.

Ped. Where to?

Will. Spain. He sailed with Captain Jordan.

Ped. Then I’ll be there to greet him. (Stands by Mag.’s body.) Goodbye, mother. I’m going to meet the Vulture. And when I get my fingers round his throat – I’ll choke the life out of him.

(Exit Ped. at window. Will. gets up, looks cautiously off and exit. Enter Tony, breathless and exhausted. He rushes to the telephone, picks up receiver – impatiently rattles the instrument. After a longish time he gets through.)

Tony. Hullo! – – Hullo, exchange! Whitehall 1212. Yes, Whitehall 1212.